Singapore Tai Chi Chuan

The Craziness of Analogies

How can we explain the energy of Push?

When applied, its like water in motion

But within its softness there is great strength.

When the flow is swift, the force cannot be withstood.

Meeting high places the waves break over them,

And encountering low places they dive deep.

The waves rise and fall,

And finding a hole they will surely surge in.

Someone commented that Press is downward pressing of force but when I disagreed I was labelled a couple of things. I said that such statement is simplistic and confusing because if you read the Song of Push above you would note that Push can also be a force that is applied downwards. Maybe one can argue that there is a difference between pressing and pushing. Is there? Let’s look at the Song of Press below :-

How can we explain the energy of Press?

Sometimes we use two sides

To directly receive a single intention.

Meeting and combining in one movement,

We indirectly receive the force of the reaction.

This is like a ball bouncing off a wall.

Or a coin dropped on a drum,

Which bounces up with a metallic sound.

As you can read Press is actually a forward going force. However, it can also be applied downwards before going upwards again. Can you see now why I disagree with the simplistic description of what Press is? There are already many areas of Tai Chi Chuan that is confusing and obscure and oversimplifying matters, trying to push it through as the truth is a great injustice to the art. People who love the art will want to get to the root of the art and not settle for efforts to dilute it and in the process emasculate the art. To see the above analogies more vividly refer to TaijiKinesis Vol 2 page 160 for Press and page 163 for Push.

When you read the above analogies without a grounding in the principles they will sound contradictory and gibberish. But if you have a background in physics then what is written will make perfect sense. I am not strong in a physics background but the previously secret art of Yang family Tai Chi Chuan that Grandmaster Wang Yongquan transmitted to Grandmaster Wei Shuren and thereafter to my teacher and to me has given me the insights to understand what is written. In fact, if you take a look again at this post on Yang Style Small Frame Fajing Method it will make sense, at least if your fundamentals are sound it should. If not, well what can I say except that the excerpt below from a book on creativity is a good wake up call :-

Salk’s penchant for seeing emergent possibilities often brought him in conflict with those whose clear view of the present blinded them to the future. “Damn it all, Salk,” one of his mentors used to say, “why do you always have to do things differently from the way other people do it?” As a medical student, he kept questioning the orthodox opinions of his teachers. In a manner typical of creative individuals, he kept seeing the emperor without clothes while everyone else admired the sovereign’s fancy regalia. 

From questioning what he was taught Salk made an important discovery :-

We were told in one lecture that you could immunize against tetanus by chemically treated toxins, or toxoids, and in the next lecture we were told that for immunization against virus diseases you had to experience infection itself, you could not use a chemically treated or noninfectious virus. Well, it struck me that both statements couldn’t be true, and I asked what that was the case. I guess the reason that was given was “because”. 

From questioning his teachers’ teachings Salk went on to a groundbreaking success, one that would affect everyone including you and me. So who is Salk? Salk is Jonas Salk and he created the vaccine for polio. You can read more about Jonas Salk here.


Author: ZenMindSword

Mushin is a practitioner, researcher and trainer for Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. He is also author of The Ip Man Koans, The Ip Man Questions and TaijiKinesis series of eBooks, as well as co-author of Complete Wing Chun.

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